“Activity is not necessarily accomplishment.” – John Maxwell
Fall can be a stressful time of year. Kids go back to school. The fun-centered carefree days of summer have come to an end, and you probably feel a need to get organized as you prepare yourself for the busy season of fall. While we all get the same amount of hours in our days, there are several time management strategies that can help you feel like a productivity powerhouse—so you can get more accomplished than you thought possible.
There’s a difference between being productive and being active. We often fool ourselves when we think being busy means we are being productive. Sure, maybe we are getting a lot of little things accomplished, but we aren’t getting our most important things accomplished. It’s a form of procrastination to busy yourself with little things while you knowingly don’t make progress on the most important things. Make sure you are making progress on your most important priorities.
Schedule exercise like an appointment. Let’s face it, if you aren’t exercising, you aren’t feeling good. You feel sluggish and low energy. In order to make exercise work with a crazy schedule, you have to schedule it like it’s an appointment you can’t miss. (That’s why I love group fitness- it’s my appointment!) You can’t wait for the day when you will suddenly have more time, because often that day never comes. I like to remind people to think of passion is energy. Do you have passion for feeling good? If exercising and keeping your body healthy is truly important to you, prioritize exercise and schedule other parts of your day around it. Don’t forget that keeping yourself healthy goes a long way to keeping the rest of your family healthy and happy.
Have a planning day. I think Sunday is a great day to plan for the week. I go to the grocery store on Sunday and stock up for the week so I won’t have to make multiple trips throughout the week. I also use Sunday to prepare food. I boil up some eggs,grill up some chicken breast, wash and cut up fruit and put it inside Tupperware containers to get food ready for the week. Every Sunday, I literally fill out the Family White Board, it’s a white board with seven columns (one for each day of the week) and we each write our schedules on it in different dry erase colors so we can see who is doing what, when and where. It helps for planning and respecting each others appointments. (I write all of my exercise sessions on it so my kids know when I will not be available for them.) If you need ideas, check out my cookbook, Choose This!
Track it. Don’t try and keep everything you have to do in your head. Develop a method for listing all of your to dos so you can get them out of your head and into an effective system. Some people love keeping track of big priorities and daily To Dos with their iPhone and others like a Daily Planner or a notebook. Find a method you like, and once something you have to do pops into your head, document it. You will alleviate stress and you will be motivated to cross those items off your list!
Bundle your activities. Checking your email throughout the day—or obsessively as soon as a new email pops up in your inbox, eats tons of time. Try checking your email at certain times during the day instead and turn off your automatic notice that a new email has come in. Constantly switching between what you are doing to a new email eats your time. Bundle other activities together to get more accomplished. For example, if you have errands to do, try to line up several errands to do at one time.
Batch everything you can do in less than 15 minutes together. Rather than scatter quick errands or tasks throughout the day, group them together. Make a list of tasks you can finish in under 15 minutes and do them all at once. You won’t lose time switching between small tasks or scattering them throughout the day. When you tackle them all at once, your mind will be clear to focus on bigger priorities.
Work your days backwards. Approach your day with the end in mind. How would you deem your day successful at the end of it? What needs to happen for you to have a sense of accomplishment and feel great when the day concludes? Identify the activities or projects at the start of your day so you have a game plan for a successful day.
As Stephen Covey said, “The main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.”